Father of mental patient distraught‚ but fears justice will not be done

Gauteng MEC for health Qedani Mahlangu raises concerns over the high number of abandoned babies PHOTO: VATHISWA RUSELO
Gauteng MEC for health Qedani Mahlangu raises concerns over the high number of abandoned babies PHOTO: VATHISWA RUSELO

“Even if Qedani Mahlangu gets fired‚ she will be moved to a top post. This government is evil.”

These are the words of Reverend Joseph Maboe‚ who lost his 51-year-son Willie Maboe‚ in July last year after he had been moved from the Life Esidimeni Clinic for psychiatric patients.

Maboe‚ a psychiatric patient‚ died at a home in Hammanskraal and the last time his father saw him Willie was “filthy‚ stinky and hungry and dehydrated“.

This is the person to blame for mentally ill patients dying on government's watchGauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu placed patients in facilities that lacked basic competence. This is the finding of the national health ombudsman‚ Professor Malegapuru Makgoba. 

The health ombudsman‚ Professor Malegapuru Makgoba‚ is due to release his report into the deaths on Wednesday. Sowetan newspaper reports suggest that the ombudsman has urged Premier David Mabuza to consider firing MEC Qedani Mahlangu.

Times Media asked Maboe what he believed should happen to the MEC and if he believed she should be fired.

“The ombudsman asked me that very question. But it is difficult as I am not the only person.

“We are group of families are affected. Our are hearts are broken.”

“It is for the department and government to decide. If she is fired‚ she will get a new job.”

An estimated 1‚900 seriously ill mental patients were placed in NGOs last year after the Gauteng Health Department cancelled its long-running contract with the Life Esidimeni Hospital.

Maboe had visited his son at the Esidimeni facility where his son was being treated but at the end of June‚ he discovered his son was not there.

“I went home with the chips I had bought for him.”

Maboe managed to call many NGOs with the help of Section 27 and found his son was at a person’s house in Hammanskraal.

He organised a lift to the place a few days later and discovered his son staying with about 40 men in a tiny space.

“Some men in the garden called out for money and food.”

Maboe bought his son new clothes and shoes from a nearby shop as he had not been washed in days.

The staff urged him not to take his son away as they needed to take him to the doctor.

“There was no medicine there. We left at 12:30 and staff weren’t preparing lunch.”

The NGO was getting donations of food from Checkers‚ said Maboe.

Six days later‚ in July‚ Maboe was called to come and see his son‚ but when he finally organised a lift from Randfontein to Hammanskraal that afternoon‚ his son had died.

Makgoba reportedly found that 71 patients had died after they were transferred from Life Healthcare Esidimeni to NGOs and other institutions. According to the leaked report‚ 96% of the deaths occurred at incompetent and poorly resourced NGOs following “inadequate planning and a chaotic and ‘rushed or hurried’ implementation process“.

The DA’s Jack Bloom said: “It was abundantly clear from the start that the Health MEC had bungled the transfer of patients which led to avoidable deaths.” Bloom once again called for Mahlangu to be fired for “inexcusable neglect“.


- TMG Digital/TimesLIVE